NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2023

The Red Wings, Ducks and Islanders are linked to Alex DeBrincat, the Penguins and Hurricanes are believed to be interested in Erik Karlsson, and the latest on John Gibson in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the future of Alex DeBrincat remains the Senators’ top priority. Management continues to work the phones trying to trade the 25-year-old restricted free-agent winger.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland claims the Detroit Red Wings are revisiting their interest in DeBrincat. Garrioch also cites sources claiming the Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders are in the mix.

If the Senators can get DeBrincat off their books, they could have room to sign unrestricted free-agent winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The Senators would also like to add depth to their third and fourth lines but some of that is being held up by the DeBrincat situation.

TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported the DeBrincat camp seeks a contract similar to Timo Meier’s eight-year, $70.2 million deal with the New Jersey Devils with an average annual value of $8.8 million. Interested clubs aren’t willing to go that high, valuing him closer to $7.8 million. None of them are willing to offer up an eight-year contract.

The Senators could bring DeBrincat back on a one-year deal. However, they’re taking the winger to salary arbitration to see if they can get a 15 percent reduction on his $9 million qualifying offer.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Red Wings could consider terminating winger Filip Zadina’s contract after failed efforts to trade him followed by his clearing waivers earlier this week. There’s talk he could refuse to report to their AHL affiliate if sent down, which would be a contract violation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $9.8 million in cap space. They have the cap room to pursue a trade for DeBrincat and perhaps sign him to a contract close to what his camp is seeking. However, they might feel more inclined to do so if they can get Zadina’s $1.85 million cap hit through 2023-24 off their books.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Levine weighed in on the Ducks’ rumored interest in DeBrincat. He believes it would make sense for them as they’re seeking a scoring winger and have the cap space and assets to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on Garrioch’s latest report, the Ducks may have the cap space but they’re not willing to pay him $8.8 million annually. The same also applies to the Red Wings. Both clubs could be trying to squeeze the DeBrincat camp into accepting a lesser deal to facilitate a trade.

The Islanders, meanwhile, have the most difficult path to landing DeBrincat. They lack the cap space as well as the quality assets to tempt the Senators. I don’t see them having a chance unless the Ducks and Red Wings drop out of the bidding.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng indicates the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes are thought to be interested in Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. However, he also cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that interested clubs prefer that the Sharks retain a larger chunk of the 33-year-old Norris Trophy winner’s $11.5 million cap hit.

Friedman indicated the Sharks were willing to retain 20 percent of Karlsson’s cap hit when they were discussing a possible deal with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this year. He also noted that general manager Mike Grier has said that they’re not going to retain 50 percent.

According to Friedman, Sharks owner Hasso Plattner is a bit involved in this situation. It sounds like he’d be willing to retain a little bit more with the caveat that the more they retain, the better the return has to be.

Friedman also noted that Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations, has been pursuing Karlsson for some time, stretching back to when he was the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi believes Dubas has a way of clearing cap space to acquire Erik Karlsson now that Penguins winger Drew O’Connor has filed for arbitration. That move allows the Penguins a second opportunity this summer to buy out any player on his roster (other than O’Connor) 72 hours after O’Connor’s arbitration case is settled or awarded.

Rossi noted that Dubas said on July 1 that he looked into acquiring Karlsson and didn’t rule out continuing the pursuit. Such a move would likely be a three-team deal as the Penguins lack sufficient tradeable assets on their own to make it happen and the cap space to absorb his full cap hit.

The Penguins have two potential buyout candidates in Mikael Granlund and Jeff Petry. Rossi believes Granlund is the more likely option given Dubas’ recent remarks that he still views Petry playing a big part with the Penguins going forward.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden doesn’t see the Penguins pulling off a Karlsson trade given their lack of cap space and trade assets. The only way he envisions it happening is through “some third-team, cap-dump magic.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Three-team trades are easy for fans to envision, In reality, they’re difficult to pull off, especially when the centerpiece of the deal carries $11.5 million annually through 2026-27 plus a full no-movement clause giving him complete control of the situation.

I’m not suggesting it can’t happen. I just think the Penguins face long odds of pulling it off.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Levine cited John Gibson’s appearance on the July 4 episode of the “Cam and Strick Podcast” where he spoke about his future with the Anaheim Ducks.

There have been reports that Gibson wanted to be traded from the rebuilding Ducks to a team that was in a better position to win the Stanley Cup. The 29-year-old goaltender said he wasn’t really sure if a trade was going to happen. He indicated he’s had a few conversations with Ducks GM Pat Verbeek since the end of the 2022-23 season but declined to get into the details.

Gibson said he’s facing some uncertainty over whether he’ll be returning with the Ducks or playing elsewhere this season. For now, he’s focusing on his offseason training.

Levine believes it’s unclear what the future holds for Gibson. He’s got four seasons left on his contract with an average annual value of $6.4 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports there is no known formal trade request from Gibson. When asked, the goalie and his agent declined to comment. However, sources close to Gibson and the Ducks say he has not asked to be traded.

Stephens indicated that neither side is banging the table for a trade. However, that doesn’t mean neither side wouldn’t be interested if an opportunity were to materialize.

Trade destinations appear limited this summer. The Penguins are no longer an option after they brought back Tristan Jarry. Stephens wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s cap hit and his 10-team no-trade clause complicates things. Verbeek would also likely set a significant asking price. Perhaps next summer might be a better opportunity to move Gibson when the salary cap is expected to rise by at least $4 million.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2023

Update on Alex DeBrincat, John Gibson’s agent clashes with a pundit over his trade request, and the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators management continues working the phones trying to trade Alex DeBrincat. However, the 25-year-old winger’s contract demands are holding things up.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Garrioch cited TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming the DeBrincat camp seeks an eight-year, $70.2 million contract. That’s roughly the same contract winger Timo Meier signed with the San Jose Sharks.

Dreger also indicated that the Michigan-born DeBrincat prefers to play in the United States for family reasons. He said that the clubs considering him feel his value is closer to the eight-year, $63 million deal signed by Meier’s teammate, Jesper Bratt.

The Senators would like to move out DeBrincat in order to focus on other needs. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported they had spoken to unrestricted free-agent winger Vladimir Tarasenko. There’s talk the 31-year-old winger isn’t keen to play in Canada but could be facing limited options.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes reports DeBrincat’s agent, Jeff Jackson, denied that his camp’s contract demands were holding up a trade. He called the report “entirely false and without merit”. To his knowledge, Jackson indicated there had been no agreement of any kind of trade involving his client. He added they would require that before entering into a negotiation.

Jackson also pointed out that his camp is not blocking a trade. He noted that his client lacks a no-trade clause, allowing the Senators to send him wherever they want.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The DeBrincat camp reportedly provided the Senators with a list of preferred destinations but Jackson is right that there is no limitation on where they can trade his client. The Senators probably prefer a sign-and-trade scenario as that would provide them with the best return.

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears wondered if DeBrincat would be a good fit with the Islanders. He cited reports out of Ottawa including the Islanders on a list of groups interested in the winger.

Sears noted there is an obvious need for the Islanders to add a scoring winger. However, their limited salary-cap space ($1.08 million) would make it difficult to swing a trade.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Jared Serre suggests DeBrincat would be a good fit with the Capitals. While he’s the right age and has the scoring skills, their own salary-cap constraints make this almost impossible unless they can find a way to shed the salaries of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will take quite a bit of cap juggling for the Isles or Capitals to land DeBrincat, especially if they intend on signing him to a long-term contract.


SPORTSNET: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli told the Nasty Knuckles podcast that goaltender John Gibson had asked for a trade from the Anaheim Ducks, telling them that he wasn’t playing another game for the club.

Gibson’s agent Kurt Overhardt issued a statement on his client’s behalf regarding Servalli’s remarks, calling them “false, unjust and inflammatory”. He added that that Gibson never made any such statement to any member of the Ducks front office.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli responded to Overhardt’s statement on Twitter. He reminded Overhardt of an occasion three years ago when the agent denied Seravalli’s report claiming that his director of hockey operations and licensing was joining the Arizona Coyotes. Shortly afterward, the Coyotes confirmed the hiring.

There were reports this spring claiming the 29-year-old goaltender has spoken with Ducks management about a possible trade. With an annual cap hit of $6.4 million through 2026-27, his contract could be difficult to move given the high number of teams with limited cap space for 2023-24.


RDS.CA: cited Bally Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reporting free-agent winger Vladimir Tarasenko is mulling up to six offers from NHL clubs. Some are for one year while others are multi-year. Strickland believes the 31-year-old winger is closing in on a decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted earlier, the Senators are believed to have spoken to Tarasenko. There’s also speculation the Carolina Hurricanes are among the suitors.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2023

Updates on the goalie trade market plus the latest on Senators winger Alex DeBrincat and Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, Anaheim’s John Gibson, Philadelphia’s Carter Hart and New Jersey’s Mackenzie Blackwood could potentially be traded. “We’ll see how those scenarios play out especially closer to the draft in Nashville next week,” he wrote.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (NHL Images).

Hellebuyck looms over everything given his status as a Vezina Trophy finalist. Complicating things is he’ll be seeking a deal comparable to Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy on his next contract. The 30-year-old Hellebucyk is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hellebuyck camp has informed the Winnipeg Jets that he’s not interested in signing a contract extension with them. The Jets will understandably want the best possible return for him in the trade market. His willingness to sign an extension with his new club will affect how big that return might be.

LeBrun also acknowledged recent trade speculation about Nashville’s Juuse Saros. He indicates that Predators general manager Barry Trotz isn’t shopping the 28-year-old netminder. It would take a significant offer to pry Saros away from the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Trotz will retain Saros if he’s retooling the Predators roster rather than rebuilding.


DAILY FACEOFF: Mark Larkin lists six potential trade destinations for Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old Ottawa Senators winger is a restricted free agent who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. He informed the Senators that he was not interested in a contract extension with them and provided management with a short list of preferred trade destinations.

Larkin listed the Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues as landing spots for DeBrincat. He also examined why the winger would be a good fit with those clubs as well as the difficulties each could face to acquire him.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff cited TSN’s Craig Button suggesting DeBrincat (a Michigan native) would be a good fit with the Red Wings. Duff wondered if the Senators would trade DeBrincat to a division rival.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Red Wings made the best pitch, yes, I think the Senators would ship DeBrincat to Detroit. That being said, their preferred option would be out of the Atlantic Division and preferably to the Western Conference.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights are believed to be on DeBrincat’s trade list along with the Red Wings and Panthers. He lacks no-trade protection so the Senators could ship him anywhere but the preference here is likely to send him to one of the clubs on his list provided they’re willing to sign him to a contract extension.

Of the teams on Larkin’s list, the Wings seem the best fit in terms of cap space and depth in tradeable assets. The Predators could be an intriguing option given new GM Barry Trotz’s willingness to explore the trade market for a scorer.


CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve MacFarlane believes there should be a good market for Flames defenseman Noah Hanafin given the 26-year-old’s age, experience and accomplishment.

Recent reports suggest Hanifin isn’t interested in signing a contract extension with the Flames. He’s a year away from UFA status. MacFarlane suggests a trade seems in store with the draft approaching.

MacFarlane thinks the Flames defense corps can handle trading Hanifin. He envisions MacKenzie Weegar being elevated to their top pairing alongside Rasmus Andersson next season. With Oliver Kylington returning for next season to skate alongside Chris Tanev, the second pairing remains solid.

Hanifin’s departure could make it possible for the Flames to add more dynamic offensive talent either from an existing player or a prospect coming to Calgary in a trade package.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2023

Potential trade destinations for Jets center Pierre Dubois and Ducks goalie John Gibson plus updates on Capitals winger Tom Wilson and Sabres winger Victor Olofsson in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin listed the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild as possible trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The 24-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is expected to be shopped after his agent informed them that he’s not interested in signing a new contract. He’s a restricted free agent on July 1 who is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin points out that Dubois could help those four clubs address their need for depth at center among their top two lines. However, he points out that his contract is a sticking point.

Larkin also noted that the Hurricanes have much to figure out long-term for their roster this summer, the Avalanche might lack sufficient assets to acquire Dubois, the Canadiens could be reluctant to deviate from their rebuilding process while the Wild lack the cap space to take him on.

The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd also took note of the advantages Dubois could bring to the Canadiens. The downside would be the cost in cap room, dollars and picks to acquire him as well as concerns over the baggage he might bring from the toxic Jets locker room.

Larkin also doesn’t expect the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers to have a serious chance of landing Dubois.

He pointed out that the Bruins have bonuses overages to pay to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci and lack young, high-end assets to offer up as trade bait. Meanwhile, the Wings, Kings and Rangers already have established first-line centers and spent a lot investing in No. 2 centers over the past couple of seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss agrees with Larkin, citing many of the downsides that Todd listed. He also brought up the fact that Dubois forced a trade out of Columbus and appears to be doing the same in Winnipeg.

As for the Kings, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman yesterday said that there are some teams that believe the Kings could take a run at acquiring Dubois.

That would mean demoting Phillip Danault to the third line and promising Quinton Byfield to the fourth. They could play Dubois on the wing but that would create a log jam with Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo currently filling those roles among their top two lines.


THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman looked at seven potential trade destinations for Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson.

He has four more years with an average annual value of $6.4 million remaining on his contract with the rebuilding Ducks along with a 10-team no-trade clause. Gibson will be 30 when the 2023-24 season begins so the clock is ticking on him playing as a true No. 1 netminder with a competitive team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Los Angeles Kings were Goldman’s suggested targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Hurricanes, Devils, Senators and Sabres all have the cap space to absorb Gibson’s contract. As a Pittsburgh native, he might be receptive to joining the Pens but we don’t know if new team president Kyle Dubas would be interested in picking up his contract.

The Hurricanes have indicated a willingness to bring back Frederik Andersen and/or Antti Raanta for next season. The Devils’ cap space could shrink considerably if they re-sign pending RFA forwards Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier, potentially pricing them out of the bidding.

Gibson could be reluctant to join rebuilding clubs in Ottawa, Detroit and Buffalo, though the latter appears on the cusp of contender status with the right goaltender. The Ducks could be unwilling to peddle Gibson to a close rival like the Kings.

Goldman also mentioned many of these factors.

I’m not saying Gibson is untradeable this summer, just pointing out the potential stumbling blocks for those seven teams. Maybe one of them will find a way to overcome those obstacles or perhaps another club we haven’t considered could make a pitch.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber reported Sirius XM’s John Hoven and The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein reported on “King Of The Podcast” that a reliable source claimed the Los Angeles Kings “kicked tires” on Tom Wilson.

The 29-year-old Washington Capitals winger will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Hoven acknowledged that he wasn’t sure how that trade would work.

Silber cited the mutual interest between Wilson and the Capitals to sign an extension that allows the big winger to finish his career in Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt that the Kings may have inquired into Wilson’s availability. However, I think the Capitals intend to re-sign him so I don’t expect to see him traded. Perhaps Wilson gets shopped at next year’s trade deadline if the Caps are out of playoff contention and contract talks end up stalled by that point.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Victor Olofsson and his agent expect a trade from the Sabres. However, it could take some time to pull it off.

Olofsson, 27, carries a salary-cap hit of $4.75 million for next season and is slated to become a UFA next July. Lysowski cited sources saying Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is “very active” in trade talks on multiple fronts. However, those sources declined to say if Olofsson is part of those discussions yet.

The rise of young Sabres wingers Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka made Olofsson expendable toward the end of last season. They also have promising prospect Jiri Kulich knocking on the door. With a number of notable wingers potentially available in the trade and free-agent markets, the Sabres may have to be patient in finding Olofsson a new home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski also suggested the Sabres could start 2023-24 with Olofsson in the lineup and attempt to move him during the season.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2023

Could the Ducks’ John Gibson address the goaltending woes of the Penguins or Senators? Could this year’s playoffs be the last for several of the Jets’ key players? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey suggests Pittsburgh native John Gibson could address the Penguins’ goaltending woes. The club has come to a crossroads with pending free agent Tristan Jarry. Starkey believes they should move on and pursue a trade for the Anaheim Ducks netminder even if it means shipping Jake Guentzel or Bryan Rust to the Ducks.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Starkey would bring back Jarry only if Gibson proves unattainable. He’d only sign him for a year or two at $4 million annually and believes the Penguins would also need a reliable veteran with starter experience to pair with Jarry.

Gibson is a franchise goaltender. While his stats have declined, Starkey believes that’s due to playing for a team that’s fallen to the bottom of the league. He’s been a workhorse who’s averaged 50-60 games per season for the Ducks. Gibson is signed for four more seasons at $6.4 million annually which fits into the Penguins’ perceived window.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson also has a 10-team no-trade clause but the Penguins might not be on it. He could jump at the chance to play for his hometown team despite their missing the playoffs this season but I don’t know if the Penguins can make the type of offer that would intrigue the Ducks.

Guentzel or Rust are good fits on playoff contenders but not on a team in the early stages of a rebuild like the Ducks. I think they’ll want a promising young player, a first-round pick or a top prospect as part of the return. If there were willing to acquire Guentzel they’d need assurances he’ll agree to a contract extension and that’s something he might not do.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports goaltending was the Senators’ Achilles heel over the past four years, one they intend to address in the offseason. He included Gibson among their possible options this summer.

Garrioch noted the Ducks would like to shed Gibson’s contract. There’s talk he’d like to be moved to a contender. Garrioch believes the Senators are on the verge of something special.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson could be a great fit with the Senators. They have the depth in promising young players and prospects to make a competitive bid to the Ducks. However, we don’t know if he’d accept a trade to Ottawa or any of the other Canadian franchises.

If Gibson is willing to join the Senators, they’ll have to move some salary in the deal or ask the Ducks to retain part of his cap hit to ensure sufficient cap space to re-sign Alex DeBrincat. If DeBrincat’s not interested in a long-term extension, perhaps he could be offered up in return for Gibson provided he’s willing to sign with the Ducks.

If they can’t re-sign DeBrincat and the Ducks aren’t interested in him, the Senators can ship him somewhere else and perhaps use the savings to take on the remainder of Gibson’s contract in a separate deal.


THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates recently suggested this year’s playoffs could be the last opportunity for some members of the Winnipeg Jets’ core talent to win a Stanley Cup together.

Since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2018, the Jets have been in decline, missing the playoffs last season and barely qualifying this season.

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forwards Matt Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. This postseason could be the last time some of those players could be in a Jets uniform.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets can open contract extension talks with any of those four on July 1. Whether they’ll do that depends on how they perform in the playoffs as well as their interest in sticking with the Jets beyond next season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2023

The Oilers and Lightning clinch playoff berths, the first 2023 playoff matchup is set, the Panthers overtake the Penguins in the Eastern wild-card race, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the third time in his career as his club clinched a playoff berth by blanking the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Jack Campbell made 36 saves for his first shutout with the Oilers while Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist. With a record of 45-23-9, the Oilers hold second place in the Pacific Division with 99 points. Ducks goaltender John Gibson left the game with a lower-body injury as his club fell to 23-42-10 on the season.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a big day for the Oilers. McDavid and Draisaitl were named the first and second stars of the month for March (Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller was the third star) while goaltender Stuart Skinner was named rookie of the month.

Speaking of Draisaitl, he has 30 power-play goals this season, putting him within reach of Tim Kerr’s single-season record of 34.

The Tampa Bay Lightning secured a playoff spot thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-save shutout of the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists for the Lightning (45-26-6) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 96 points. The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped to 39-29-9 and hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 87 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Point now has 48 goals on the season. Before the game, the Islanders announced that winger Oliver Wahlstrom is officially out for the season with a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 27.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov kicked out 31 shots to shut out the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Michael Bunting, William Nylander and Radim Zohorna scored for the 45-20-10 Leafs as they sit in second place in the Atlantic with 100 points. With a record of 37-34-5, the Senators (79 points) are six points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Before the game, they announced center Derick Brassard is out for the season following surgery for a broken fibula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Lightning and Leafs winning last night, they have officially become the first confirmed playoff match-up in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs, which begins on April 17. They faced each other in the first round last season with the Lightning winning the best-of-seven series in seven games.

A four-goal performance by Carter Verhaeghe powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alex Lyon got the shutout with 21 saves while Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair each had three points for the 39-31-17 Panthers, who vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins into the final Eastern wild-card berth with 85 points. The Blue Jackets dropped to 23-44-8 on the season.

Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the league-leading Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to reach 102 points on the season while Pavel Zacha had three assists for the 59-12-5 Bruins (123 points). Bryan Rust scored twice for the Penguins (37-29-10) as they sit one point behind the Panthers.

The Vegas Golden Knights became the first Western Conference team to reach 100 points this season (101) by taming the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson each had two points as the conference-leading Golden Knights (47-22-7) sit two points ahead of the Oilers in the Western standings. Matt Boldy tallied his 29th goal of the season for the 44-23-9 Wild as they sit atop the Central Division with 97 points.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored and added three assists in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. Nathan MacKinnon tallied two goals for the 45-24-6 Avalanche as they sit one point behind the Wild in second place in the Central with 96 points. Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski replied for the Stars (41-21-14), who also have 96 points but sit third in the Central as the Avs have a game in hand and four more wins.

The Nashville Predators thumped the St. Louis Blues 6-1 to remain in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Tommy Novak had a goal and three assists and Luke Evangelista had three points for the Predators (38-29-8) as they sit three points behind the Winnipeg Jets with 84 points. Calle Rosen replied for the 35-35-6 Blues, who also lost defenseman Marco Scandella in the second period with a lower-body injury.

A hat trick by Alex Tuch carried the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Casey Mittelstadt collected three assists while Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 39 shots for the Sabres (37-31-7) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 81 points. Morgan Frost scored twice and Travis Konecny scored in his first game since being sidelined for 16 games by an upper-body injury as the Flyers fell to 29-33-13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, Flyers head coach John Tortorella said center Sean Couturier (back) won’t return this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes maintained their lead in the Metropolitan Division by blanking the Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Antti Raanta had a 14-save shutout while Brady Skjei, Paul Stastny and Sebastian Aho scored for the 48-18-9 Hurricanes (105 points) to hold a one-point lead over the New Jersey Devils. Sam Montembeault made 47 saves for the 30-41-6 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced defenseman David Savard is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury while winger Rafael Harvey-Pinard (day-to-day) was being rested due to minor injuries.

Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton, Timo Meier, Erik Haula and Jesper Boqvist each had a goal and an assist for the 48-20-8 Devils. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected an assist in his first game since being sidelined by long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome on Jan. 28 as his club fell to 24-46-6.

Los Angeles Kings winger Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist as his club held off the Seattle Kraken 3-1. Alex Iafallo collected two assists and Pheonix Copley made 25 saves as the Kings (44-22-10) sit one point behind the Oilers in third place in the Pacific Division with 98 points. Oliver Bjorkstand replied for the 41-26-8 Kraken as they remain three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets in the first Western wild-card position with 90 points.

The San Jose Sharks crushed the Arizona Coyotes 7-2. Noah Gregor scored his first career NHL hat trick while Erik Karlsson had four assists for the 22-39-15 Sharks while the Coyotes dropped to 27-37-13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 95 points in 76 games, Karlsson could become the first NHL defenseman to score 100 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.